Addressing the international congress for telehealth and telecare, health minister Paul Burstow said the NHS could save £1.2bn from the technology that would also help patients live more independently and control their own care.
David Cameron announced last year that three million people would benefit from an “industrial scale” rollout of NHS telehealth systems to homes across the country.
The technology, ministers say, will cut unnecessary hospital admissions, stop patients from having to wait at home for the doctor to call and check their vital signs, allow people to spend less time in NHS waiting rooms, and also detect serious issues before they get worse.
Burstow told the telehealth congress that the UK was a “world leader” in the area and that widespread adoption would mean a better quality of care for people with long-term conditions.
“Delivered from the front line it could save the NHS up to £1.2bn over five years,” he said.
“This new approach is not about the technology, it is about a revolution in personalised healthcare that can improve the lives of three million people, increase their independence and dignity as well as reduce the time they spend in hospital.”
But concerns have been expressed.
In February Professor Nick Goodwin, a senior fellow in health policy at the King’s Fund said local health communities were being left without key information required to rollout the technology effectively, calling for full transparency on the extensive whole system demonstrator trials that had taken place. Without the full results of the trials, he reportedly said things could “go wrong” for local implementation.
And concerns have been expressed about the potential detrimental effects of telecare on the elderly. WRVS said in a November report that online and telecare services could have a negative on the wellbeing of elderly people and lead to greater isolation. David McCullough, WRVS chief executive said at the time: “Loneliness is a genuine health risk and if undetected, can lead to expensive and avoidable stays in hospital.”